Announcing a New Build with Purpose White Paper: Too Good to Be True: Lessons Learned on Solar Powering the Nonprofit Sector
We are pleased to share our findings from a new white paper of ours on solar powering the nonprofit sector. As usual, we believe in being very practical when it comes to a facility or real estate project. So along the way we learned that nonprofits can use these seven simple questions before pursuing a [...]
Jersey City Community Charter School
This gym was one of the recent additions made to the Jersey City Community Charter School, a project managed by READS with financial support from The Reinvestment Fund of Philadelphia.
Posted on January 4th, 2012 No comments
HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!
1. Newark development organization awarded federal status
Brick City Development Corp. — Newark’s economic development arm — has been certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Treasury Department, BCDC will announce today. The designation will serve as a credential and allow BCDC to apply for federal grant money that can be used for small business and community development lending.
2. Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Safe Streets Amendment
In a major step forward for Complete Streets, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed a federal transportation authorization bill that includes a measure for the safe accommodation of all users in federally-funded street projects. Alaska Senator Mark Begich offered the amendment that established this measure and accepted an amendment from Senator John Thune of South Dakota. The Committee voted unanimously in favor of the measure.
3. Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Era in U.S.
At Dugsi Academy, a public school in St. Paul, Minnesota, girls wearing traditional Muslim headscarves and flowing ankle-length skirts study Arabic and Somali. The charter school educates “East African children in the Twin Cities,” its website says. Every student is black. At Twin Cities German Immersion School, another St. Paul charter, children gather under a map of “Deutschland,” study with interns from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and learn to dance the waltz. Ninety percent of its students are white. Six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down “separate but equal” schools for blacks and whites, segregation is growing because of charter schools, privately run public schools that educate 1.8 million U.S. children. While charter-school leaders say programs targeting ethnic groups enrich education, they are isolating low-achievers and damaging diversity, said Myron Orfield, a lawyer and demographer.
4. Congress is Going the Wrong Way on the Road to Investing in America’s Future
The Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill that Congress recently passed will make it more difficult for the lowest-income students to access postsecondary education and gain the skills and credentials they need to support their families and contribute to the economy. The bill reduces funding for Pell Grants and workforce investments, in spite of increasing need. And it fails to protect students’ eligibility for student aid, creating educational dead ends for the most vulnerable students. Students who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent are one of the most vulnerable groups.
5. How to Pay for America’s Infrastructure
America’s transportation infrastructure is in desperate need of an update, and most politicians would agree that more funding should be dedicated the nation’s highways and mass transit systems. Yet there is little consensus about where to find those new funds and Democrats and Republicans disagree stridently over whether Washington should increase its role. One potentially fertile place for compromise may be in the form of state infrastructure banks, which have gained support from both the left and right in recent months. These public agencies, provided some government funds, would be designed to encourage significant private investment. And they would do so with little interference from the national government.
6. Five Things the Census Revealed About America in 2011
A cascade of statistics from the 2010 Census and other Census Bureau sources released during 2011 show a nation in flux—growing and moving more slowly as it ages, infused by racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants in its younger ranks, and struggling economically across a decade bookended by two recessions. The nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and especially their suburbs, stood on the front lines of America’s evolving demographic transformation.
7. N.J. sets up website to provide nonprofits with information
Nonprofit organizations in New Jersey can now turn to a single website to find any resource they may need from the state. State officials say the Nonprofit Information Center portal — nonprofit.nj.gov — provides nonprofits with one-stop shopping on funding sources and other assistance available to them through state government. Legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie required the New Jersey State Department to maintain such a directory.
8. The bold urban future starts now
America doesn’t do big projects anymore — we’re too broke, no one can agree on our priorities, that era of bold thinking is over. That canard has been repeated so many times that it’s now accepted as gospel. Except it’s not true. In cities in every region of the country, pie-in-the-sky ideas are moving from brainstorm to blueprint to groundbreaking — and 2012 will prove it. From a massive re-imagining of a postindustrial Chicago landscape to the rebirth of the Los Angeles River, these seven ventures point the way to a brave urban future.
9. Atlantic City to expand gambling, drinking options in casinos
There’s more gambling and drinking on tap for Atlantic City in the new year. New Jersey regulators are letting casinos put slot machines and table games into places they’ve never been before. They’re also letting casinos sell or give away alcohol in places like a clothing store, a wireless Internet lounge, and gift shops.
10. The Unfathomable Cuts in Housing Aid
For an up-close view of the affordable housing crisis—which predated the mortgage-driven financial crisis of 2008 but has deepened since then into a full-blown national emergency—one place to be was the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex in the Red Bird neighborhood of Dallas. There, in the early morning hours of a typically scorching day this past July, thousands of impoverished Texans lined up for a chance to get on a waiting list for federal housing assistance, the first time in five years that the county government had accepted applications. Back in May another 21,000 people had applied for a shot at 5,000 spots on the Dallas Housing Authority’s waiting list—still better odds than in nearby Plano, where 8,000 people applied for only 100 available housing vouchers.
Posted on December 15th, 2011 No comments
1. Can Urban Transit Hubs Help Revitalize New Jersey’s Cities?
New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program has become popular with corporations and residential developers recently, with more than half of the program’s $1.5 billion committed to 13 projects over the past two years. But the nine cities currently eligible for the program, which provides a tax credit of up to the full value of capital investments in very large projects within a half mile of urban rail stations, may have to share the wealth with suburban areas that can attract large construction investments that retain or create jobs. Bills moving through both houses of the legislature seek to divert $200 million initially from the cities for new Grow New Jersey credits.
2. As Newark’s population grows for first time in 60 years, hope emerges for a city renaissance
No national headlines will come of this. Not yet. For 10 years, something unusual has been happening in Newark, according to data from the U.S. Census. While the inner ring of suburbs around the city have been losing population at a dramatic rate, Newark itself has gained population for the first time in more than 60 years. The growth wasn’t extravagant — the city added around 4,000 people since the turn of the century — but some experts say the data suggests that maybe, just maybe, Newark is beginning to turn a corner after decades of decline.
3. N.J. Turnpike Authority budget stays the same as Parkway, Turnpike tolls are set to sharply rise again
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority board has adopted a $475.5 million operating budget that calls for the elimination of 141 full-time jobs through attrition. There is no increase over the 2011 budget. The budget also reflects the first of the two toll increases that took effect three years ago. Motorists will see the second increase on Jan. 1, when tolls go up 53 percent on the turnpike and 50 percent on the Garden State Parkway.
4. Secret To A Long, Healthy Life: Bike To The Store
What would you say to a cheap, easy way to stay slim, one that would help avoid serious illness and early death? How about if it made your neighbors healthier, too? It could be as simple as biking to the store. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin were wondering if getting people out of their cars just a wee bit would create measurable improvements in health. So they gathered up data sets on obesity, health effects of pollution, and air pollution caused by automobiles in 11 Midwestern cities, and did a mashup.
5. More Jobs From Renovation than New Construction
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently reviewed studies that show that repairing existing buildings is a sustainable economic strategy. Building renovation produces about 50 percent more jobs than constructing new buildings, according to the roundup of case studies.
6. Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?
No one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control. No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, did this by setting unrealistically high — and ultimately self-defeating — expectations for all schools.
7. Number of charter school students soars to 2 million as states pass laws encouraging expansion
The number of students attending charter schools has soared to more than 2 million as states pass laws lifting caps and encouraging their expansion, according to figures released Wednesday. The growth represents the largest increase in enrollment over a single year since charter schools were founded nearly two decades ago. In all, more than 500 new charter schools were opened in the 2011-12 school year. And about 200,000 more students are enrolled now than a year before, an increase of 13 percent nationwide.
8. Camden Named 2nd Most Dangerous City in America
Sometimes, just for a moment, I find myself forgetting that Camden actually exists. It’s not that I actively choose to block it out of my mind, like my 15th birthday party, but it’s probably because Philadelphians only go to Camden for one of two things: the Aquarium or a Phish show. But Camden, like a “troubled teen” who’s appeared on multiple episodes of Maury, just can’t get its act together. And much in the same way said troubled team needs discipline from an overbearing, ex-military/security guard, Camden needs help.
9. Would you really like to live there? America’ssaddest cities revealed… and three of them are in the Sunshine State
It might be bathed in glorious sunshine throughout the year – but new research has revealed the Floridian city of St Petersburg is the saddest place to live in the U.S. Having a Guinness World Record for 768 straight days of sunshine did nothing for the state’s fourth largest city – deemed to be a hotbed for suicides and anti-depressant pill poppers. The unemployment hotspot of Detroit, Michigan, unsurprisingly followed close behind, with third place in the ‘Frown Town’ stakes going to Memphis, Tennessee.
10. NYC launches push to enter green zone
New zoning proposals designed to make it easier for owners to make their buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable began the formal city public approval process on Monday. Existing zoning laws can actually impede owners trying to build green or retrofit their buildings. The new proposals are expected to lift some of those impediments. The changes include allowing owners to build thicker walls to accommodate external insulation, which could reduce energy consumption by as much as half, and allowing the installation of solar panels even if they would add more height to a building than zoning rules allow.
Posted on November 9th, 2011 No comments
1. Nation’s newest national historic park in NJ
A majestic 77-foot waterfall in the heart of a working-class New Jersey city that inspired generations of newcomers to America, fueled the Industrial Revolution and was featured in everything from a William Carlos Williams poem to an episode of “The Sopranos,” became the nation’s newest national park Monday. The Great Falls in downtown Paterson was given the national park designation in a ceremony attended by New Jersey officials, local schoolchildren, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the head of the National Park Service.
2. Debate brews over new method to measure poverty
Debate over how the federal government measures poverty intensified Monday when the Census Bureau announced a second way to calculate the number of America’s poor. The new method for the first time adds the value of food stamps, school lunches, housing subsidies and the earned income tax credit. It also subtracts payroll and income taxes, child care costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses. The new estimate says 16% of Americans lived in poverty in 2010, slightly higher than the official rate of 15.2% released in September. Most important difference: The number of seniors termed poor almost doubled while the number of children classified as poor fell.
3. New Jersey Worse Off at End of Decade Than Start, Study Says
New Jersey had fewer jobs and more people living in poverty at the end of 2010 than in 2000, according to a study from a group that favors tax increases to benefit people of low or moderate means. Employment fell to 3.85 million last year from 3.99 million in 2000, while the jobless rate jumped to 9.5 percent from 3.7 percent, according to the study released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective, based in Trenton. The national rate climbed to 9.5 percent from 4 percent in that period, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Jersey’s weak economic recovery was cited by all three major credit-rating companies that each lowered the state’s bond ranking by one level this year.
4. Charter schools are ending the minority achievement gap
A poll commissioned earlier this year by Friends of Choice in Urban Schools found that District families who stand to benefit the most from public charter schools know the least about them. Many erroneously believe charter schools are privately funded, charge tuition and require admissions tests. So last month, FOCUS began a yearlong advertising campaign on Metro to educate parents in Wards 7 and 8 about the remarkable success of school choice in the District since 1996, when the city passed one of the strongest charter school laws in the nation. In a telling reversal of their student share, charter schools in the District educate 40 percent of the city’s public school children, but account for 60 percent of all the high-performing, open-enrollment schools.
5. Unable to pay bill, Mich. city turns off lights
As the sun dips below the rooftops each evening, parts of this Detroit enclave turn to pitch black, the only illumination coming from a few streetlights at the end of the block or from glowing yellow yard globes. It wasn’t always this way. But when the debt-ridden community could no longer afford its monthly electric bill, elected officials not only turned off 1,000 streetlights. They had them ripped out — bulbs, poles and all. Now nightfall cloaks most neighborhoods in inky darkness.
6. Recession Drives More Americans to Poverty-Wracked Neighborhoods
The number of Americans living in neighborhoods beset by extreme poverty surged in the last decade, erasing the progress of the 1990s, with the poorest areas growing more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities. At least 2.2 million more Americans, a 33 percent jump since 2000, live in neighborhoods where the poverty rate is 40 percent or higher, according to a study released today by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. The report, which analyzed Census Bureau data, shows the extent to which the U.S. lost ground in efforts to fight poverty during a decade marked by recessions, including the deepest slump in seven decades.
7. Land Banks Can Aid in Reinvigorating NJ Cities and Towns
Most municipalities have at least a few vacant or abandoned properties within their borders. In some places these properties have become a huge problem, as their numbers increase and they outpace the market’s ability to reabsorb them. These vacant properties can become hot beds for crime, dumping, fires and other dangerous or unwanted activities. The burden of dealing with them is often passed on to the municipality, which must exhaust city resources on a property they may not even be gaining tax revenue from.
8. Despite Fears of a Crash, Solar Sector Remains White Hot
New Jersey’s solar market is continuing its rapid pace of growth—even amid warnings by some the sector could be headed for a crash. In October, more than 44 megawatts of new solar systems were installed in the state, bringing the total to more than 447 megawatts of installed capacity, according to information compiled by a state contractor who helps administer the solar program. That amount could be more than doubled (1,017 megawatts) if all of the projects in the pipeline are built. In fact, so much solar is being built that New Jersey is more than a year ahead of meeting a state-mandated requirement that specifies how much of the its electricity comes from solar energy. For most, that would be viewed as good news, but some say the explosive growth has created an oversupply of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), the primary means of financing solar projects.
9. Princetown Township And Princeton Borough Merging Into One Municipality
Voters in Princeton Township and Princeton Borough have decided to combine their two towns after having rejected consolidation at least three previous times in the past 60 years.Borough voters approved a merger Tuesday by a margin of about 3-to-2. It was even more decisive in the township, where the change was supported by a margin of more than 5-to-1. The merger takes effect in 2013. The township surrounds the borough like a doughnut, and Ivy League Princeton University straddles the town line. After three rejections of consolidation, this acceptance is an eye-opener for Rutgers University political science professor John Weingart.
10. Prudential Expands its Veteran Training and Employment Initiative
With veterans returning home in record numbers from ongoing conflicts abroad, Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) announced today the expansion of its veteran training and employment program run by Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS). The VETalent program is now available in partnership with Rutgers University, Penn State University-Abington, and the University of North Florida. In 2009 Prudential partnered with WOS, a nonprofit organization, and Rutgers University-Newark to develop a unique program called VETalent that would train Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans for jobs in information technology.
Posted on November 2nd, 2011 No comments
1. Latest Round of Charter Applications Filed with Education Department
Here we go again. With the previous round just finished, another 42 applications for new charter schools were filed by this week’s deadline. Some are sure to spark off the by-now recognizable debate about charters in some familiar — and not so familiar — places. Three of the most contentious applications from the last round — all rejected — have filed again. They are a Hebrew language school in Middlesex County, a Mandarin language school in Essex County, and a charter high school for Montclair that is now making its fifth try. In all, 12 of the 42 applications are making at least their second bids for the state’s approval, according to the education department.
2. Some 15% of U.S. Uses Food Stamps
Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in August, as the number of recipients hit 45.8 million. Food stamp rolls have risen 8.1% in the past year, the Department of Agriculture reported, though the pace of growth has slowed from the depths of the recession.
The number of recipients in the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), may continue to rise in coming months as families continue to struggle with high unemployment and September’s data will likely include disaster assistance tied to the destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.
3. Putting Zuckerberg’s Millions to Work for Schools
The people in charge of giving away $100 million of Mark Zuckerberg’s money to improve the lives of children in this city operate from a drab warren of offices downtown, where the walls are empty except for a few whiteboards left behind by another nonprofit organization. There are five unwelcoming black plastic chairs in the foyer for visitors, part of a package of used desks, filing cabinets and shelves picked up for $9,000. The microwave in the kitchenette is also a hand-me-down. Until a couple of weeks ago — more than a year after Mr. Zuckerberg, a co-founder of Facebook, announced his gift to much fanfare on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — the sign on the door was a sheet of 8.5-by-11 paper taped to the glass, and the people behind it lacked business cards.
4. On Top of the Urban Highway Trend
As they stroll between two buildings that echo the grandeur of Daniel Burnham’s demolished Union Station here, pedestrians can easily forget that they are walking over a bridge that spans a sunken interstate highway. But that’s what happens at the retail complex called the Cap at Union Station, where the classically styled buildings flank what looks like — but isn’t — a typical city street. The innovative project, which opened in 2004, put Columbus at the forefront of a national trend: Covering sunken freeways with caps, decks, land bridges or lids, as they are called, and using the found space to reconnect neighborhoods that were torn apart by the national highway building binge of the 1950s and 1960s.
5. Where the 1 Percent Fit in the Hierarchy of Income
The Occupy Wall Street protests have set off an enduring conversation in the city concerning what has come to be known as the 99 percent. There has also been a collateral conversation about the richer and remaining 1 percent. Here is the hierarchy of income that underlies the conversation. The volume of each section represents the number of American families in each category, based on a study of 2006 tax returns by Emmanuel Saez of Berkeley. Selected individual salaries are from publicly available sources.
Read more/see chart…
6. As Population, Consumption Rise, Builder Goes Small
The planet may not feel any different today, but there are now 7 billion people on it, according to the United Nations. That number will continue to rise, of course, and global incomes are likely to rise as well. That means more cars and computers, and bigger homes: the kinds of things Americans take for granted. It’s that rise in consumption that has population experts worried. Klaus Lackner, a physicist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, says as economies improve in places like India and Africa — where populations are growing fastest — they’re going to want to live more like we do.
7. Casting the Robert Moses Role in HBO’s Upcoming Film
New York’s master builder is going Hollywood. A biopic is reportedly in the works on the life of Robert Moses, the controversial and prolific builder who dramatically altered the landscape of New York City in the early and mid-20th century. The Hollywood Reporter revealed recently that HBO and director Oliver Stone are teaming up to produce the film, based on Robert A. Caro’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, The Power Broker. (HBO had previously optioned another book on Moses, Anthony Flint’s 2009 Wrestling with Moses.) Turning Caro’s wide-ranging 1,200-pager on Moses’ entire life into a film seems a daunting task. We can probably expect to see some flashbacks, but chances are the film will have to focus on the prime years of Moses’ career, beginning around the late 1930s up to his ultimate downfall in the early ‘60s.
8. Last-minute partnership saves New Jersey After 3 program from shutdown
A popular after-school program for children of poor, working families known as New Jersey After 3, on the verge of ending because of budget cuts, has been spared through a partnership between private donors and the state Department of Education, Gov. Chris Christie said today. The partnership, forged in the program’s eleventh hour, includes David Tepper, a wealthy hedge fund manager and Christie ally, who formed a nonprofit organization, Better Education for New Jersey Kids. Christie said Tepper would contribute an undisclosed sum until the federal government provides more money to the state.
9. In this economy, consolidation could be right move for NJ towns
Funny thing is, when you ask a resident of Princeton Township or Princeton Borough where they live, the answer usually is simply “Princeton.” Well, now they have a chance to make that a reality. On Nov. 8, the two municipalities can write history (and rewrite maps) if they vote to consolidate. The town’s new name? Princeton, of course. Should they merge? Yes. Will they? Who knows? The towns have been trying to marry for 60 years, but each time, residents have objected rather than hold their peace. Three efforts toward a proposed unification have failed, but times have changed dramatically, even since the last attempt in 1996.
10. Camden’s housing incentives aim at middle class
The lists this city has made over the years aren’t good: Most crime-ridden, highest poverty rates, highest drop-out rates. But local officials and some of the biggest employers are boosting it as a good place to live, in an effort to recruit a middle-class to a city where generations of people have moved out as soon as they could afford it. Mayor Dana Redd announced a program last week in which three city hospitals and Rowan University will offer incentives for their employees to buy homes in the neighborhoods near where they work. The strategy echoes incentives over the last two decades that have helped been tried as parts of larger efforts to transform neighborhoods from Birmingham, Ala., to Detroit.
Posted on October 12th, 2011 No comments
1. New York’s Public Architecture Gets a Face-Lift
Designed by 1100 Architect with an interior by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture & Design Partnership, the Children’s Library Discovery Center, as it’s called, is part of a quiet revolution reshaping the city’s public architecture. Piecemeal across the five boroughs, New York is gradually being remade. These changes come largely thanks to David J. Burney, a polite Englishman who has lived here for 30-odd years and, since 2004, has been Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s commissioner for the Department of Design and Construction. Under him, and mostly under the radar, dozens of new and refurbished libraries, firehouses, emergency medical stations, police precincts, homeless processing centers and museums have been designed by gifted and occasionally famous architects.
2. Affordable housing gets a new home in N.J.
In the past several weeks, a number of events have had an impact on the Garden State’s court-mandated affordable housing program, often called “Mount Laurel housing.”Long administered by the state Council on Affordable Housing, the program has required every town to provide homes that low- and moderate-income residents can afford. This housing was funded in part by fees paid by developers. In recent weeks, though, the governor has signed another 2½-year moratorium on the fees, and COAH has been abolished. The state’s Department of Community Affairs now will administer the program.
3. Camden, two other New Jersey towns, among nine U.S. cities going broke
While President Obama and the assorted GOP contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination push their ideas for getting the country back in the black, there are some U.S. cities and counties on the brink. An analysis by 24/7 Wall St. examines the nine municipal bodies with the worst credit ratings assigned by Moody’s, not including school systems, rated Ba2 and lower. (For perspective, Moody’s rates junk bonds as Ba1.) Coming in at No. 9 on the list is Camden. The city has been beset with money issues for quite a while, highlighted by a mass layoff of its police officers and firefighters earlier this year. The city collected $181,257,000 in revenue in 2009, but was in debt to the tune of $103,284,000 during that same year.
4. Study: growing up in bad neighborhoods has a devastating impact
Growing up in a poor neighborhood significantly reduces the chances that a child will graduate from high school, according to a study published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review. And, the longer a child lives in that kind of neighborhood, the more harmful the impact. “Compared to growing up in affluent neighborhoods, growing up in neighborhoods with high levels of poverty and unemployment reduces the chances of high school graduation from 96 percent to 76 percent for black children,” says Wodtke, a Ph.D. student who works with Harding at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). “The impact on white children is also harmful, but not as large, reducing their chances of graduating from 95 percent to 87 percent.”
5. Clinton Road, New Jersey: The most terrifying road in the U.S.
About seven years ago, my cousin Julie and her husband Mark moved back to New Jersey from South Carolina. After months of searching, they found a great house in West Milford, New Jersey. Julie, who I grew up with, called me and asked me to meet them at the house and let them know my opinion. After checking out a map online, I saw the home was on a street just off Clinton Road north of Route 23. I drove up Green Pond Road, got onto Route 23, and then turned right onto Clinton Road. Almost immediately, I noticed that Clinton Road was different from almost all the roads in New Jersey. There were no homes along the road and no connecting roads. Clinton Road was very curvy and kept winding around between different bodies of water.
6. Despite price tag, a charter school finds perks in private space
By the time Hyde Leadership Charter School expanded into high school grades three years ago, overcrowding at their co-located Department of Education building had become severe. Limited to two floors for over 700 students, classes were held in hallways and high school students complained of filthy conditions in the bathroom they had to share with elementary students. “It was terrible,” said Dominic Batista, a junior. “It was like a jail.” Rather than jockey for more space in an increasingly crowded public school system, the growing school took a road less traveled for a charter school in New York City. Keeping its elementary and middle school at P.S. 92, Hyde developed a private facility for its high school just down the road on Hunts Point Avenue in the south Bronx.
7. NJ sets right course on charter schools with high standards, close review
The Christie administration last week rejected 56 of the 60 applications for new charter schools, a welcome sign that its standards are tough despite its ideological support for the choice movement. The best of these schools, like the TEAM Academy in Newark, are miracles in our midst. With the same demographic mix of students as district schools, their kids are doing much better in basic skills. And they are doing it for less money, in a setting that is safe and orderly. Expanding on that success should be a top priority.
8. The ‘Shadow Northeast Corridor’ Draws Warehouses … and People
An article on GlobeSt.com describes a recent meeting sponsored by NAIOP NJ where one of the speakers, Alex Klatskin, partner of Teterboro-based Forsgate Industrial Partners, made an astute observation: “The real beltway [around New York City] is not Interstate 287,” he said. “It’s 81 to 84.” What he’s talking about is something that might be called the “Shadow” Northeast Corridor — a phenomenon that has been emerging recently in data on commuting and on county-to-county migration. It seems that the actual Northeast Corridor has gotten so densely populated, pushing land values so correspondingly high, that it no longer makes economic sense for the warehousing and distribution industry to build large-floorplan facilities there.
9. New Urbanists: No Economic Recovery Without Smart Growth
What happened to the United States over the past several years is most commonly described as a recession. By the technical definition of the word we’re two years into a recovery. But it sure doesn’t seem that way. Meanwhile, a growing chorus of intellectual leaders says the country is experiencing something different than a normal cyclical fluctuation: the end of an epoch. Leading urban thinkers, from Richard Florida to James Howard Kunstler, believe we have reached the limits of our fossil-fueled, double-mortgaged, McMansion-based economy. Relief won’t come, they say, until America begins confronting the systemic problems that produced the meltdown, including inefficient and unsustainable public infrastructure investments and housing development.
10. Study: Worst hospitals treat larger share of poor
The nation’s worst hospitals treat twice the proportion of elderly black patients and poor patients than the best hospitals, and their patients are more likely to die of heart attacks and pneumonia, new research shows. Now, these hospitals, mostly in the South, may be at higher risk of financial failure, too. That’s because the nation’s new health care law punishes bad care by withholding some money, says the lead author of the study published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.
Posted on September 26th, 2011 No comments
JERSEY CITY (September 2011)- Students at Jersey City Golden Door Charter School started the school year on September 9th in a historically renovated building at 3026 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Construction began at Golden Door Charter School in December to renovate the stately St. John the Baptist School and Convent buildings.
The building was originally built in 1914, yet now feels like a brand new building through façade improvements and renovations completed in the classrooms and hallways. Finished wood floors, new lighting fixtures and new paint completed the fresh look. Additionally, the school put in large white boards in each classroom to cover up the old chalkboards and to modernize the function of the classrooms. The terrazzo flooring in the hallways were also refinished which added character and richness to the building.
Build with Purpose also renovated the adjacent convent, tying the two buildings together with an exterior courtyard. The convent contains administrative spaces, offices, and a conference room for staff. Most windows have been replaced in the school and the convent, but some minor work is still ongoing such as landscaping and the replacement of additional windows.
“Without Build with Purpose, we never would have gotten this project done. They were with us every step of way. The building is beautiful; it is larger and more affordable. Our families love it,” said Brian Stiles, Chief Academic Officer at Golden Door Charter School.
The exterior courtyard between the two buildings creates a new entrance, drop-off area, and garden space with benches. KSS Architects is the architect for the project and Tekton Development is the contractor.
“We are pleased how the upgrades to the buildings tie into the existing details of the space. The faculty can appreciate the history and quality of the buildings but the students also feel they are part of something special as well,” said Eric Felczak, Project Manager at Build with Purpose.
Build with Purpose secured this as a permanent home for Golden Door Charter School in spring 2010 using an innovative real estate structure. Build with Purpose negotiated a 40-year lease for the school with the former St. John the Baptist School. The long-term lease was structured such that the owner would retain legal ownership while letting the school secure the financial resources to renovate the building without the cost of buying it. New Markets Tax Credits were utilized for the project with The Reinvestment Fund and Chase providing the financing.
At 72,000 square feet, Golden Door Charter School’s new building maintains the beautiful historical structure as well as
the exceptional architectural detail. The building includes a 3,900 square foot auditorium complete with a mezzanine and a stained glass skylight that encompasses the entire ceiling and floods the space with natural light.
Golden Door Charter School was founded in 1998 as one of Jersey City’s first charter schools. At its current location, 180 Ninth Street, the school educates nearly 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Even with the added space available at the new facility, there are no plans to increase enrollment at the school.
As a nonprofit, Build with Purpose is committed to building strong organizations and communities through innovative real estate development. Since its inception in 2003, Build with Purpose has assisted dozens of nonprofits in developing their facilities to meet their social service needs.
Build with Purpose provides all phases of real estate development and technical assistance including financial structuring and project management. Build with Purpose has been recognized by the New Jersey Department of Education with the Corporate Partnership Award for its work with charter schools and by the Federal Department of Education as a promising practice in real estate development.
For more information, contact Build with Purpose at 732-635-1000.
Posted on September 15th, 2011 No comments
HARRISON (September 16, 2011)- Students at Lady Liberty Charter School are getting a little help this morning with some extra school supplies. Volunteers from Build with Purpose, a NJ-based community development organization, arrived with backpacks filled with notebooks, folders, and pencils for the school’s 460 students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Located at 15 Frank E Rodgers Blvd in Harrison, NJ, the school is one of the many charter schools in New Jersey that Build with Purpose is assisting.
Build with Purpose plans to distribute over 4,000 backpacks to schools across the state including: Community Charter School of Paterson in Paterson, Foundation Academy in Trenton, University Heights Charter School and Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark, Queen City Academy in Plainfield, PleasanTech Academy Charter School in Pleasantville, and Hope Academy Charter School in Asbury Park, Most of these schools are part of efforts to create high-quality charter schools in neighborhoods that have been plagued by failing public schools.
Requiring coordination across several weeks and involving numerous volunteers, this effort is just one of the ways that Build with Purpose sees an opportunity to help build vibrant and healthy communities. Founded in 2003, Build with Purpose has historically focused on the bricks and mortar of charter school development and the organization is now completing its eighteenth charter school project and has developed over $100,000,000 of facilities over those nine years.
However, increasingly, Build with Purpose has been helping schools and communities to build gardens, foster community health connections and to tap into other programs and resources. In this case, Build with Purpose is working with Better Education for Kids, Inc. (B4K) to provide backpacks filled with essential school supplies to students in need.
“We are proud of the work that we do to build high-quality buildings for local charter schools, but we also know that we need to and can do more. By helping to provide school supplies to students in need and tap into additional resources, we are helping these schools, these families and these communities to save real money and to do better academically,” said Brian Keenan, Director & President of Build with Purpose.
The backpack program is just one of a number of new efforts by Build with Purpose to become a key partner with schools in broader neighborhood and community efforts. This backpack effort was spearheaded by Rose Grummer-Strawn, a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Ms. Grummer plans to work with the organization over the next year to help foster these kinds of community connections and to bring additional resources into schools and nonprofits in underserved communities.
And for its part, Better Education for Kids was excited to have a statewide partner with the resources, expertise and community connections to distribute so many backpacks. “We are very excited to team up with Build with Purpose for such an important project. In these difficult economic times, basic school supplies are often unaffordable for many families. We want parents and kids to focus on a successful school year, and these backpacks and supplies mean there will be one less thing for families to worry about,” said Shelley Skinner, Deputy Director of Better Education for Kids (B4K).
Build with Purpose is a statewide community development organization that works to build sustainable organizations and healthy, vibrant communities. The organization provides all phases of real estate development and technical assistance including financial structuring and project management to get nonprofit facilities ranging from charter schools to housing developments built. Build with Purpose has been recognized by the New Jersey Department of Education with the Corporate Partnership Award for its work with charter schools and by the Federal Department of Education as a promising practice in real estate development.
Posted on September 14th, 2011 No comments
The Trenton-based New Jersey Community Capital loan fund has provided a $2.56 million acquisition loan that has allowed the Hope Academy Charter School to stay in the five-story 601 Grand Ave. home it moved into in 2008.
Hope Academy had carried out its obligations in paying rent under its lease but the building owner, 601 Grand Associates, failed to make mortgage and tax payments and also neglected building maintenance, according to a release from New Jersey Community Capital, a not-for-profit group.
As a result, Wells Fargo Bank began foreclosure proceedings in the summer of 2010.
NJCC made the loan not to the school itself but to another nonprofit, Build with Purpose, which purchased the building with the intent of turning ownership over to the charter school in five years, the release said.
The five-story building now houses 193 students from kindergarten through eighth grade, but the new arrangement will give Hope Academy room to expand, since it does not presently use all the space in the building, the Trenton group said.
Joe Palazzolo, NJCC’s team leader for education and early care lending, said Wednesday his organization receives funds from investors, often banks seeking to fulfill their community reinvestment requirements.
NJCC, in turn, works with the intermediary group, Build with Purpose, which Palazzolo said has the sophisticated real estate knowledge which groups focused on education may not have. NJCC sponsored the formation of Build with Purpose in 2003 to meet the real estate needs of nonprofit organizations.
“Without the assistance of NJCC and Build with Purpose, our group of kids would have lost not only a great education but all of their invaluable relationships and the sense of community we have fostered,” said Hope Academy’s director, Alexis Harris, in the release.
“When you can put these type of private funds into an underserved communtiy, and support school choice and education reform, at the end of the day what you’re really doing is making more seats available for school children,” Palazzolo said Wednesday.
The loan was NJCC’s third charter school loan in August. Since 2005, the community development lender has leveraged over $129 million in charter school development costs and committed $43 million in direct funds to 23 charter school campuses, the release said.
Posted on August 31st, 2011 No comments
1. Charities Struggle With Smaller Wall Street Donations
Operation Hope built a nonprofit powerhouse over the last decade, spinning a stockpile of donations from Wall Street firms into 27 financial education centers across the country. But the charitable organization’s donor base has retrenched in the wake of the financial crisis. Citigroup’s foundation last year cut its giving 60 percent, to $115,000. The ING Foundation delayed paying its $300,000 commitment to Operation Hope. And the CIT Group, a lender that was once one of the organization’s biggest benefactors, stopped giving altogether.
2. New California Law Will Boost Social Entrepreneurship
A new California law that comes before Governor Jerry Brown today could make it easier than ever to combine business with social mission, a welcome respite for those seeking to harness the engines of capitalism in the service of good deeds. While growing ranks of entrepreneurs are combining business and social missions—think Toms Shoes or Method cleaning products—current law makes it difficult for them to raise money and control their enterprises. That’s changing around the country, and California could be the next frontier, if advocates of social business ranging from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to apparel giant Patagonia have their way and create a new legal category for what they call Benefit Corporations.
3. Announcing The Great American Teach-Off: One Outstanding Teacher Will Win $10K
GOOD and University of Phoenix are proud to announce the launch of The Great American Teach-Off, a nationwide competition to celebrate teachers who are making a positive impact in America’s classrooms. Here’s how it works: Click here to nominate an outstanding teacher for kindergarten through sixth grade*—it can be one you’ve had, your child’s, or even yourself—by September 16. We’ll select the finalists based on how he or she makes a positive difference for students; how creativity and innovation is fostered in the classroom; and what impact he or she has made on the greater school community.
4. Newark ‘Teachers Village’ progresses as state clears way for financial incentive package
After years of planning, the Teachers Village in Newark — a major urban renewal project housing charter schools, apartments for educators and a new retail corridor — is coming together. The state’s Economic Development Authority gave final approval Thursday to a package of financial incentives for the village, freeing up the money for construction to begin soon. Developers are counting on a broad array of public financing tools, including tax breaks and grants, and city officials say all of those pieces are now in place.
5. Despite Hurricane Irene’s approach, construction pushes on at Jersey City school
Despite the approach of Hurricane Irene, construction is continuing today at a Jersey City school. Workers from New Brunswick-based construction company Tekton Development were hard at work today renovating the old St. John the Baptist School at Kennedy Boulevard and St. Paul’s Avenue. The building, which will be home to Golden Door Charter School, is getting new windows and renovated classrooms.
6. Where is the Center of a City?
Google Maps searches include a pinpoint of what the search engine has determined are the centers of cities. One artist has built sculptures of those pinpoints in their real-life locations. Titled “Map”, the pinpoint sculptures are part of an installation by German artist Aram Bartholl. Starting in 2006, Bartholl created a series of six-meter tall sculptures of the iconic red marker used by Google Maps. The artist had recognized that the familiar 20-pixel graphic used by Google casts shadows on the widely consulted digital maps as if they were physical objects in real space. Likewise, when the map is switched to satellite mode, the virtual pins seem to become part of the city.
7. New York Expects Lengthy Recovery of Transit System
The New York City subway, whose closure in the lead-up to Tropical Storm Irene was perhaps the most unsettling element of a prodigious storm preparation effort, reopened on a limited schedule on Monday morning. Nearly all of the subway’s 22 lines, including express and local service, have restored, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Web site. Fewer trains will run than in a normal morning rush. Still, other parts of the region’s mass transit network are likely to remain partially paralyzed for the morning commute, including the suburban commuter rail networks that carry thousands of workers to hospitals, investment houses and corner bodegas alike.
8. NJ Supreme Court Decision Chips Away at Nonprofit Confidentiality
The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously declared Tuesday that the nonprofit New Jersey League of Municipalities is subject to the same open-record disclosure standards as the municipal governments it represents. The decision means that the League is no longer able to use its nonprofit status to deny access to records that it and other nonprofits have typically thought of as protected from public disclosure. The case arose in 2008, when the nonprofit Fair Share Housing Center sued the League calling for disclosure of documents such as e-mail messages, letters and reports related to the municipalities’ clash with housing advocates over a “fair-share housing” requirement.
9. Solar Industry’s Boom in N.J. Casts Shadow Over Program That Spurred It
A giggling Kyle Bartz used the new rooftop solar panels as a trampoline atop the sprawling Toys R Us distribution center here on a recent sunny summer morning. “This is the latest panel on the market,” said Bartz, the national director of energy management for Toys R Us. “It’s extremely durable, extremely flexible.” The thin-film solar panels he was jumping on are now part of the nation’s largest rooftop solar installation, covering 20 acres — the size of about 15 football fields — atop the distribution center. The 5.38-megawatt project will slash $350,000 a year from the building’s power bills, a 72 percent reduction, the company said.
10. Town mints own money to fight austerity
A small town in central Italy is trying to go independent and mint its own money in protest at government austerity cuts. Filettino, set in rugged hill country around 100 km (65 miles) east of Rome, is rebelling against a proposal to merge the governments of towns with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants to save money. Filettino has only around 550 people, but instead of merging with neighboring Trevi, mayor Luca Sellari is trying to go it alone and set up a “principality” along the lines of the famous republic of San Marino to the north.
Posted on August 24th, 2011 No comments
1. Stymied Charter Files Suit Against Three School Districts
As New Jersey’s battles over charter schools have increasingly gone suburban, one charter school is fighting back in a legal counteroffensive that could have statewide implications. The Princeton International Academy Charter School (PIACS) has filed suit against three districts that have openly fought its existence, contending that they have unlawfully used public funds in their two-year campaign against the school. Although approved by the state, the charter has yet to open. It has needed two extensions while it battles for potential sites in Princeton and now South Brunswick, two of the districts named as defendants. The third is West Windsor-Plainsboro.
2. New Jersey Tent City Houses 70 Homeless People Who Draw Community Scorn
Marilyn Berenzweig was a successful New York textile designer who loved her work and comfortable lifestyle. For the past year, however, she and her husband have been living in a tent city in the New Jersey woods. “It’s life on a much more primitive level. … Cooking on a wood stove … having no running water, no electricity.” Berenzweig, 60, and husband Michael live at Tent City Lakewood, a growing community of 70 homeless people living in a series of tents, shacks, trailers and tepees in a wooded area along the Jersey Shore about 25 miles north of Atlantic City.
3. NJ withdraws proposed charity fund-raising rule
New Jersey consumer affairs officials have withdrawn a plan restricting the language charities can use in soliciting donors. Under the proposal announced last month, nonprofit groups would have had to tell donors they could designate which programs their money should fund. The groups also would have had to note in fund-raising appeals that non-directed donations could be used for whatever purposes the charities chose, including general operating expenses. But many groups balked, claiming the language implied that management and other overhead expenses are inherently bad.
4. Northeast rail corridor gets $745M for upgrades
The federal Department of Transportation announced Monday that $745 million would be going toward rail projects that will allow trains to travel up to 160 mph in some sections of the Northeast Corridor and to construction that will allow Amtrak trains to avoid a congested rail junction in part of New York City. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the projects would create 12,000 jobs over the span of construction. “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.”
5. Christie must move on ‘foreclosure rescue’ bill
In the last few days of its session, the Legislature — with both rare bipartisan amity and the support of consumer and banking organizations — passed a bill to crack down on so-called “foreclosure rescue” companies and guarantee that people who have lost their homes to them receive fair compensation. The bill — the Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act — landed on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk June 29. He hasn’t signed it yet. “But this gets to be very timely right now,” says Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), the bill’s prime sponsor who has issued a public plea to Christie to sign the legislation.
6. NJ toy gun swap contrasts with nearby violence
Several dozen children clutching water pistols and cap guns Monday lined up in Newark to exchange their fake weapons for non-violent toys as word spread that a shooting with a real gun had taken place just blocks away. Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the nearby gunfire was from a man accidentally shooting and injuring himself, and that the fact it took place near a children’s toy gun exchange illustrated just how important such initiatives had become to curbing the cycle of violence. “We have a serious, serious problem in Newark, in Jersey City, Camden, Detroit, Cleveland; there’s a serious problem in America with gun violence,” Booker said. “We’ve got to start to break this culture, and we in Newark are determined to do that.”
7. N.J. grants more than $14M for statewide infrastructure improvements
The state will dole out 95 grants to municipalities, counties and airports to perform $14.65 million in road projects. The bulk of the funds will be distributed to municipalities for local road projects, including $3.5 million for a bridge replacement in South Plainfield, $250,000 for a streetscape project in Roxbury and funds for resurfacing streets in Denville, Morris Plains, Victory Garden and Morris County’s Washington Township. In total, 29 municipalities will split up $10 million. An additional 55 grants totaling $2 million will be given for “safe corridor” projects, including $31,752.12 in Essex County, $108,617.75 in Mercer County, $319,240.78 in Union County and $403,661.06 in Middlesex County. The program identifies 14 10-mile stretches of highway that have been designated for improvements to reduce traffic crashes.
8. An Economic Development Case for Building Sports Stadiums—Or Not
Just last month, we posted a blog entry asking readers whether building convention centers in inner city neighborhoods are worth the public subsidies required to do so. Since then, an almost identical conversation has been happening about whether sports stadiums are worth the public investment. In an article posted in The Nation, Neil DeMause asks, “Why Do Mayors Love Sports Stadiums?” He argues that tax breaks, free land, government-subsidized tax-free loans and discounts to offset operating costs are not recouped by cities after stadiums are built. Indeed, many stadium plans include benefits to the surrounding community but these plans never bear fruit.
9. Sustainable States Act Brings Thriving NJ Greening Program to the Nation
Soon-to-be proposed legislation will fund nationwide programs modeled after one of Jersey’s own. Green initiatives at the local township levels have concrete payback periods, meaning it’s federal money very well spent. The past few years in this country have featured a down-and-dirty crash course of the role of government, and the use of taxpayer funds. And while ideologies sometimes clash, many of us are evolving in our understanding of the relationship between citizen and state.
10. The Importance of Small Arts Organizations
Over the past 20 years, many arts organizations have been forced to raise increasing sums of money as growth in ticket revenue has not matched growth in budgets. This necessity has been the mother of invention; arts organizations in this country are far more sophisticated and creative about fundraising now than ever before. And while this increase in development acumen is in evidence at many arts organizations, larger organizations have had a distinct advantage. Corporate donors are looking for visibility for their products and services; gifts to arts organizations can only be justified if they support the marketing activities of the firm.